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NSYSU student-centered bilingual education: a forum to explore best practices


(Provided by Teaching and Learning Development and Resources Center) National Sun Yat-sen University (NSYSU) hosted the bilingual education forum "Conference for English as a Medium of Learning: Enabling Student-centered Bilingual Education in College" in collaboration with the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) today (March 29). The forum aimed to address the challenges faced in implementing the Ministry of Education's bilingual program in colleges, now entering its third year. Key stakeholders, including international scholars, administrators, and English language educators, convened to discuss best practices and strategies for promoting bilingual education in the future.

Nelson Wen, the Public Diplomacy Section Chief at AIT Kaohsiung Branch, indicates that ensuring teaching methods meet the needs of students is the key to guaranteeing learning effectiveness. Therefore, today's forum brings together educators from domestic and international institutions to jointly explore the best practices for enhancing students' English proficiency, which is indeed a valuable opportunity. Nelson Wen explained that creating a truly bilingual learning environment will enable Taiwanese students to strengthen the growing linkage between Taiwan and the world in recent years, and he wished everyone a fruitful outcome from today's discussion. The Senior Vice President at NSYSU, Dr. Chih-Wen Kuo, expresses appreciation for AIT's continuous support and resources in the development of bilingual education and culture exchange in Taiwan and NSYSU. With the collective wisdom and expertise of our esteemed participants, this conference is set to catalyze a significant leap forward in optimizing bilingual education within our academic realms.

The forum commenced with discussions on the concept of English as a Medium of Instruction (EMI), emphasizing the integration of student language development and subject matter learning. Scholars explored frameworks for effective language acquisition within academic contexts. Professor Carolyn Ho from Lone Star College-CyFair challenges the perspective of viewing English solely as a communication tool. She emphasizes the close relationship between students' language proficiency and subject learning and proposes a conceptual framework that integrates subject matter and language learning. Carleen Velez, RELO (Regional English Language Officer) from the US Embassy in the Philippines, shared her experiences in implementing English as a Medium of Instruction (EMI) projects around the world, including in Japan, Mexico, and Brazil. She also echoed Carolyn Ho's advocacy for integrating language learning with academic subjects. Drawing from her experience in Japan, she found that providing students with precise English training tailored to their interests in specific professional fields or future career development from the outset is the ideal teaching method.

Practical workshops, a unique feature of the event, provided educators with tangible strategies for enhancing EMI courses. The first workshop, "Fundamentals of Quality EMI Course—Language Use," led by experts with linguistic background, highlighted the importance of feedback, language self-awareness, and effective learning objectives in EMI classrooms; the second session, "Fundamentals of Quality EMI Course-Non-Verbal Strategies," focused on strategies for effective EMI courses beyond language use. The presenters, primarily domain-specific teachers, highlighted that successful EMI goes beyond improving language proficiency and underscored the importance of pedagogy and classroom relationships.

The American Institute in Taiwan, the sponsor of this event, played a significant role in facilitating international exchanges and supporting the development of English education in Taiwan. This includes the English Language Fellow (ELF) Program, which is currently run at two major universities in Taiwan to assist with the bilingual program. The two fellows shared their life experiences in Taiwan, while representatives from schools benefiting from the ELF program enthusiastically discussed the various contributions of Fellows in promoting English learning among students and teacher training at their respective institutions.

In the concluding panel discussion "Conceiving Best Bilingual Education Strategies Centered on Student Learning," participants exchanged ideas on improving bilingual education policies, focusing on student-centered approaches. They emphasized the need for sustainable teacher training mechanisms, diverse language support, and integration of academic and language teaching models. Collaboration among governments, academic institutions, and educational entities was identified as crucial for promoting high-quality bilingual education and fostering a conducive learning environment for students in Taiwan.

(Edited by Public Affairs Division)
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